Review Date: August 03, 2006
Director: Gil Kenan
Writer: Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, Pamela Pettler
Producers: Jack Rapke, Steve Starkey
A curious boy and his overweight buddy realize that a creepy house across the street is haunted, but in a very weird way. Not only does the house creak and scare those in its vicinity, it also moves about and actually chomps them up (just go with it). With a cute girl in tow and the owner of the house seemingly gone forever, the trio decide to venture inside the haunted mansion, in the hopes of kicking its ass.
Just when I was starting to get a little bored with all of the animal-based animated films out there this summer, Bobby Zemeckis and his buddy Stevie Spielberg produce a wholly original animated tale about a bunch of real-life kids who have to face an all-out haunted house, one that literally eats people up. I enjoyed the film all around, especially its short runtime of 85 minutes, which was just enough to get what one would want to get out of a film of this sort. There are some laughs, most courtesy of the “fat kid”, there are some cute moments, most involve the two boys’ anxiety around the girl in the picture, there are some scares, most courtesy of the titular house in question and a good enough story to keep me interested throughout. Granted, you sort of wonder why nobody else in the neighborhood is seeing or hearing any of the craziness that is happening right next door, and the ending goes a little too far and stretches matters with the house literally chasing the kids in question, but you know what, if you enjoyed THE GOONIES (and who didn’t?) and appreciate darker animated movies that still maintain that “kiddie feel”, I’m sure you and your kids (or your drunken buddies) will get exactly what you want to get out of this movie.
I also really enjoyed the film’s look and feel, the special effects, especially the ones inside the house, the little “nods” to films of the past, including Zemeckis’ own CAST AWAY (Wilson!) and FORREST GUMP (follow that leaf), as well as the fun voice acting from the likes of Steve Buscemi, Jason Lee and Kevin James, all of whom really fit the bill of their respective characters. I do believe the movie would have been better suited to a Halloween audience though, with the blazing sun outside cutting in my fear factor, but then again, most kids are in school during the month of October, so who knows. Then again, the film isn’t really geared towards really young kids anyway, and seems more in tune with the 8-13 year old crowd—you know, the pre-pubescent dudes and dudettes. All that to say, I quite liked the film for what it was, which was a decent dark animated picture with some fun, some scares and some neat interaction between the three lead characters. Am I going to be buying a McDonald’s “Happy Meal” featuring a MONSTER HOUSE cookie or some shit? Certainly not, but I would wholeheartedly recommend the film to any parent that is getting sick of seeing zebras crossing the Atlantic in their animated features. Yeah, you heard me…enough "ant" shit too!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian